Suomenlinna

In a continuing attempt to explore different areas of Helsinki, we took a family trip to Suomenlinna. It’s a set of four islands (google says six, but I’m at a loss when it comes to finding those other two) that was used as a maritime fortress during the Swedish era in the late 1700’s. It’s currently a very large tourist draw (during the summer), with museums, walking tours, cafes, and a few homes.

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Being an island, it’s necessary to take a ferry to get there. Before we got to the ferry, however, we also had to take a bus to the metro station, and from there we planned to hop on a tram. Well, you know what they say about the best laid plans. We got off the metro at Rautatientori, which then requires two elevators to get to the street. After the last snow storm, the sidewalks in Helsinki are still mostly snow covered and rather difficult to push a stroller through. Suffice it to say that we *just* missed the tram. Luckily, it was only a fifteen minute walk from the metro station to where you board the ferry. Unfortunately, missing the tram meant that we also missed the ferry we’d planned on taking.

After traversing Puovori for almost an hour, and seeing that Ferris wheels in Helsinki come fitted with sauna cars, we finally boarded the ferry.

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It’s a fifteen minute ride to the island. We arrived just about three in the afternoon. Husband and I were both hungry, so we decided to stop at Bastion Bistro, a cozy, casual place that was dimly lit, even before the sun set at 3:53 pm. (Seriously.) The bistro was the epitome of charming. Small, round tables lined the perimeter, while a bar height table ran down the center of the dining area. The food was delicious, and the beer was just right for a chilly afternoon. When it came time to pay, Husband used his card, issued by one if the major banks in Helsinki. The Bistro apparently has problems with that type of card, so when his didn’t work, I tried mine. No dice. Our waiter simply said, “Oh well. It’s not your fault, so what can you do? When you visit the island again, come back to eat and pay us.” I was stunned. He was right, but I can’t imagine that going down well in the States.

On that happy note, we left to continue our exploration of the darkening islands. It was now 4:00 pm and the next ferry left at five. Since that would get us home close to six, we decided to take the five o’clock ferry. That would give us roughly 45 minutes to wander around. The museums had already finished their tours for the day, and most of the shops were closing up, so we picked a direction and followed the road. Clearly, I didn’t get much background on the fortress, but I did get some stunning pictures.

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I love the water. Combine that with the history and the beautiful architecture, and I was a happy camper.

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The lights are gorgeous, but it quickly became too dark to get many more good shots. However, since Little Man has a travel-themed scrapbook, I had to get this gem:

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He’s so good at adventuring! We ended up only seeing a small part of two of the islands, but I can’t wait to go back in the summer. There was a kind of magical quality that took over as we walked back to the ferry dock, when I realized that everyone we were passing must live there. It was mostly families with small children on sleds, and some teenagers walking home. It seemed so peaceful and beautiful. I guess that’s a good way to sum up Finland: peaceful and beautiful.

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